Defenseman Victor Hedman reaches 700 career points, Lightning beat Devils 6-3

Both teams played their final game before the All-Star break.

TAMPA, Fla. — Defenseman Victor Hedman reached 700th career points with the first of his three assists, Brandon Hagel and Brayden Point each scored twice and the Tampa Bay Lightning won their seventh straight home game, beating the New Jersey Devils 6-3 on Saturday night.

Both teams played their final game before the All-Star break. Tampa Bay has won eight of nine overall, while New Jersey has two wins in its last seven.

Nick Paul and Steven Stamkos each had a goal and an assist, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 21 saves for his seventh victory in his last eight starts.

“We’re just fighting every game,’’ Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “It always seems like we’re playing somebody that’s right around us in the standings. To get these points . . . those are big for us.’’

Ondrej Palat and Jesper Bratt scored while Tyler Toffoli had his 500th career point with a goal for New Jersey. Vitek Vanecek finished with 36 saves.

Hedman reached the milestone point on Tampa Bay’s opening goal. Hedman stepped into a shot at the left point that was tipped by Paul at 1:09 of the second period. Hedman is 29th defenseman to ever reach the mark and the fourth active defenseman to reach 700 points, joining Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and Kris Letang.

“It’s special to do it in one spot, same team and same organization,’’ Hedman said.

Hagel put the Lightning up 2-0 on a rebound from Hedman’s point shot with 9:20 left in the second. With two assists in the second period, Hedman also had his 64th career multi-point period, third most among active defensemen.

The Lightning outshot New Jersey 19-4 in the second period.

“It wasn’t good enough, they won more battles,’’ New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said. “The battles on the wall, not good enough. Battles around the net front, not good enough. Just not good enough.’’

The Devils cut the deficit to 2-1 at 2:49 on a rebound goal from Palat, who played 10 seasons with Tampa Bay, winning two Stanley Cups.

Stamkos answered that a minute later to regain the two-goal lead before Bratt scored off the rush at 7:19. Point made it a two-goal edge again with 6:08 left. Toffoli made it 4-3 with 2:38 left before Tampa Bay scored two empty net goals.

“I hope everybody goes and rests up a bit, thinks about what team they want to be part of coming down the stretch,’’ New Jersey captain Nico Hischier said. “If we want to be a playoff team, we got to figure something out. I think everybody (has) to start looking in the mirror, including me. So just how are you going to get out of it? Start with yourself and then come out of this as a group.’’

Devils: Host Colorado on Tuesday, Feb. 6

Lightning: At New York Rangers on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

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